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Here's an exercise that helps you start looking at everyday, mundane things with a new set of eyes. It may help you realize that the things you notice about everyday life are the things that others notice as well.

In his 1983 book Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters, John Waters, director of Hairspray, Cry Baby, and Serial Mom wrote an essay called “Hatchet Piece (101 Things I Hate).” It is basically an exaggerated day in the life of John Waters written in narrative form, from an extremely negative perspective. He actually numbers each of the things that annoy him as he journeys through his day.

Try to write your own original version of his piece. Start by writing down everything that happens to you in a day, from the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep. Don't overlook the small things like brushing your teeth, checking your mail, and walking the dog. Then run through your day again, but this time focus on all the things that really bother you, all the unnecessary annoyances, problems, and time-wasters that we all face every day. From waking up far too early, driving in traffic, dealing with spam email or annoying coworkers, to trying to relax at home only to realize there is nothing to watch on any of the hundreds of television channels.

For example, let's try something with brushing your teeth. What could go wrong here? You could drop your toothbrush on the floor, or worse yet, into the toilet. If you're in a rush, do you use it anyway, or do you brush your teeth with your finger? Maybe you pick up a different tube of something besides toothpaste? Do you accidentally brush your teeth with athlete's foot cream or Preparation H? Have you ever brushed your teeth and then tried to drink orange juice right after? Not a great taste combination.

Exaggerate it further: Maybe you're brushing your teeth while showering to save time, multitasking your morning routine because you're late for work. Take the worst-case scenario and make it even worse.

Remember, no moment is too small; in fact, the smaller the moment, the more you want to explore it. Again, you want to work with the things that everybody notices and deals with every day but don't talk about. Have fun with it!

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